The Fish
for 28 June 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff
Editor in Chief


[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


[the fixin' pixie... ]
Emily Hobson
Production Manager
& Rhythm Guitar


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Ian Connelly]
Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager


[Brian Forsyth]
Brian Forsyth
Production Editor
& Pool Monitor


[Copy Edit]
Erica Gies
Merrill Gillaspy

Copy Editors

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


T. Jay Fowler
Production Manager
& Ass Kicker


[yes, it's a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
Erin Coull
Production Manager


Monte Goode
Monte Goode
Ghost in the Machine


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Big Hand on One

The odd — and rather
ironic — aspect of your
most recent column is that it
will undoubtedly generate
more publicity for Swatch
than any Beatnik ever did.
The very mention of this
still-proud company (they're
Swiss, after all, so what did
you expect — I can make
this comment in these PC days
because I am also a patriotic
citizen of that very nation)
on a Web site praised for its
innate trendiness (or lack
of trendiness, the same
thing on the Net) shows that
Swatch still maintains its
market cachet. An odd twist
on the usual PR fare indeed.

Nicholas Ragaz

Wow, that is pretty odd: Suck
generating publicity for
something that is lame. I
can't think of any other
enterprise that has benefited
from this unusual public
relations fare. If Suck had
just commented on places like
The Spot, Spiv, or Pathfinder
or products like OK Cola, no
doubt these commercial
ventures would have
flourished, thanks to the
wacky but ultimately
pro-business effect of being
a Suck target. Being
mentioned in a vitriolic
comment by innately trendy
Ralph Nader, after all,
deeply enhances a company's
credibility. So now that you
mention it, it does seem that
being written up in Suck
offers companies and Web
sites a glowing veneer of
chic. Now that I've helped
Swatch get its mojo working
again, I'm sure it and other
companies will be eager to
deliver the appropriate
payola to Suck.

Unfortunately, it's my editor
who plays the role of Mr. DJ
in this scenario, so I can't
imagine that I'll see a cent
of it. But I'll start making
inquiries, now that you've
tipped me off.

The Internick

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Big Hand on One ...

Recently, in Houston
(official motto: We Smell the
Heady Smell of Progress —
It Gives Us Terminal Asthma
as It Wafts Down from the
Ship Channel), we were
treated to the truly amusing
pomo spectacle of Earth Day
being brought to you by a
notoriously greedy
petrochemical giant. So
what's the point? Exactly
this: Why don't we rent out
the calendar to corporate
sponsorship? I agree with the
worldview of David Foster
Wallace's novel Infinite
Let's canonize these
national days/weeks/months by
renting them out. And why
not? We've sold out damn
near everything else, so it
really isn't that much of a
jump. We can have WidgetCorp
National Day of Prayer, The
Week of Self-Loathing Brought
to You by General Weapons
Distributors, even the
Year of the Depend Adult

It really strikes me as
idiotic that this infernal
abomination called a
nonproprietary calendar has
been allowed to continue.
There's so much money to be
made from the alternative!
How can the powers that be
sit on their asses and do
nothing? Go figure.

Christopher Driskell

The major problem with this
idea is that Congress and the
state legislatures spend
between 10 and 45 percent of
their time right now
assigning parts of the
calendar to be things like
National Fish By-Product Day
or Rhode Island Hypertext
Fiction Month. If we opened
this process up to the
highest bidder, lucrative as
that may be, lawmakers would
spend all that time making
and passing laws, such as The
Emoticon Decency Act or The
Limitation of Chihuahua
Liability Act.

The Internick

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: I'm a huge fan

... and you'll be sorely
missed. Good luck.

Chris Colon

Really? I'm a small toaster,
and I won't notice your
absence at all.

Fish With Letter Icon

I enjoyed your article a lot
(especially the part about
the EU), but near the end,
where you focused on .beat
time, I got confused. First
you praise the system. Then
in the end you make a kind of
poetical statement saying you
prefer the old 24-hour days
for some equally poetic and
trivial reason I can't
remember. I think that when
you wrote that last paragraph
you overlooked the fact that
.beat time is also called
Internet time, and it was
launched in cyberspace, not
from some blimp or church
tower or whatever. So, though
the guys at Swatch may have
had some subtle
monopolistic/fascistic (what
else should I say?) ambitions
about displacing the old
24-hour system, the .beat was
made for the Net. And it
makes things easier there
when dealing with different
time zones (e.g., meeting
time for a chat). By the way,
I think you should check
those "sales growth" figures
again ... I don't see that .4
percent in the Swatch Annual
Report on the Web, for which
you provided a link.

Carlos A. Icaza Estrada

I'm not the author, so I
can't speak to your defense
of Internet time, but that
sales figure came from
Swatch's '97 Annual Report
(the most recent one). For
more info, see Hoover's
report on the Swatch Group
If your close reading of its
public financial data yielded
some other result I'd love to
hear it. We can meet online
at .332 for a discussion via
the Beatnik satellite link.


Fish With Letter Icon
Stop Making Census

Congratulations, you have
written possibly the most
ignorant and paranoid column
I have ever read at
It is a classic example of
fearing what you don't want
to understand and mocking it
in an effort to make yourself
look smart.

Thank God the Internet gives
such a wide forum to the
ignorant. Otherwise we might
be subjected to rational
arguments that are informed
by facts.

Then what would the politicos

Mark Serafin

I appreciate the compliment,
but can you blame us for
fearing what we don't
understand? I, for one, can
hardly think of a better
strategy. We're only a
patriotic few here, defending
our civil liberties against
the encroachments of alien
cyborgs with flag lapel pins.
But keep writing! Every kind
word gives us strength to
hold out another day. We'll
show those politicos yet!


Fish With Letter Icon

I'm not sure how I feel about
writing to a character from
an animated TV series, but
while I did enjoy the play on
the Talking Heads album/movie
name in your article's title,
I thought I should point out
your mistaken use of the word
"logarithm," where you
presumably meant "algorithm."
Both are mathematical words,
but they involve entirely
different concepts. A
logarithm is the inverse
operation of an exponent,
while an algorithm is a
repeated set of calculations
or operations. I don't know
whether you or Mr. Colon is
responsible for this error,
and being contributors to an
online publication, neither
of you is likely to care, as
your occupation probably
gives you little reason to
use such a trivium. But I
thought the correction should
be made nonetheless. I'll
just give you the benefit of
the doubt and assume you are
already aware of all this and
that the mistake is purely


Greg Yordan

We are aware of all misprints
and mathematical misnomers
and place them carefully in
context to seed responses
from better educated readers,
that they might be marked for
mercy on the day of judgment.
On the other hand, what can
you expect from a character
from an animated TV series?


Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: About your census

To begin with, the American
ID will forever be a wonder
to me (I'm a Dutch academic

It is to the Dutch a strange
thing that you have so much
trouble with this. Don't the
local communities have
registers of their citizens?
And the welfare
organizations, churches, etc.?

It's pretty dangerous to have
a good system with committed

Dutch government workers were
such a useful tool to the
German occupation
administration that the
soldiers succeeded in
murdering 116,000 of the
130,000 Jews living in the
Netherlands in 1940 (almost
90 percent of Jewish humanity
in our country was erased!).

Suck daily feels good!

Mathijs Beyer

Dear Mathijis,

As a Dutchman, you may find
it hard to credit the
difficulty we have with our
committed bureaucrats.
Luckily, our immense standing
army and jackbooted police
force keep us strong and
healthy! A word to the wise!


Fish With Letter Icon


Who are you?

How did you get my address?

What do you want from me?

State your purpose!

What have I done?


Anyway, I would very much
like to know if and how my
mail was placed in any

Greetings again,

Mathijs Beyer

I am a census functionary.
Your address was in our
files. It is our desire to
subsume all information about
your personal life, nature,
inclinations, habits, and
opinions so as to replace you
with a synthetic Dutchman at
the earliest convenience.
Your transgressions will be
detailed in your replacement

Yours sincerely,

Hans Moleman, systems auditor
US Bureau of External Census

Fish With Letter Icon

Overtaxed and Underenumerated

While I didn't really get the
point, assuming there was
one, of your bit on the
census, I did enjoy it
thoroughly. I often don't
understand the things I
enjoy. But I digress.

I worked for the 1990 Census
as an enumerator. I was a
slack 18-year-old kid who
had just finished his first
year of college, so my skull
was filled with equal parts
bong resin and unevaporated
grain alcohol. To grossly
paraphrase the great Groucho,
I wouldn't want to work for
an organization that would
hire the likes of me. But
hire me it did and many more
like me; thus, its 8-million
person boo-boo.

But the fault doesn't lie
entirely with underpaid,
part-time boobs like me. The
"suspicion of government" and
"lack of engagement with
institutions" your quotes
mention were very much alive
and well. Add paranoia and
mouth-breathing apathy to the
attitude of a lazy kid,
sweating his ass off all day
trying to get to a house
that's surrounded by a moat
and in the middle of what is,
by all appearances, Tolkien's
Mirkwood, just so he can
count the two drunken
hillbillies that are
squatting there for the day,
and you get a positively
ridiculous way to count
people. Most days in the
field ended with something
along the lines of:

"Let's see. I counted exactly
... squat. How about you?"

"I got a metric bupkes. Let's
go score some weed."

So sample away, I say. It
couldn't possibly do more
harm than the current method,
which is desperate,
last-minute guesstimation
anyway. If we're going to do
that, we should at least
leave it to professional
guesstimators who got their
degrees in guesstimation from
prestigious universities. I'm
not sure where I'm going with
this, but that would give me
something in common with the
Census Bureau.

Standing up to be counted

Ty Webb

Weed-saturated guesstimation
is a time-proven technique,
and the fact that a few
grabasstic slackers such as
yourself had poor morale is
no discredit to our superb
Census Bureau. It's guys like
you who give uncaring,
faceless bureaucracies a bad
name. Get with the program!


Fish With Letter Icon

 The Shit
Left for Dead in Malaysia, Neil Hamburger, Drag City, 1999
The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink, Mark Dery, Grove/Atlantic, 1999
Crazy from the Heat, David Lee Roth, Hyperion, 1998
Keep It Like a Secret, Built to Spill, WEA/Warner Brothers, 1999
Abbott's Pizza Company, near the corner of Abbott-Kinney and California, Venice Beach, Los Angeles (delivery hours limited)
Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd, CD remaster, EMI 1994
Motorhead, CD remasters, all
Det Som Engang Var, Burzum, Misanthropy, 1998
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Nashville, Tennessee
A History of the Modern Fact, Mary Poovey, University of Chicago Press, 1998
V., Thomas Pynchon, HarperCollins Publishers, 1999
The Coffee Mill, Emeq Refaim, Jerusalem, Israel
The Salesman and Bernadette, Vic Chesnutt, Capricorn Records, 1998
Good Morning Spider, Sparklehorse, Cema/Capitol, 1999
Third Floor, Anderson Building, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

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